This new production from Alison Farina’s Butterfly Psyche Theatre is aptly chosen as its Winter Show. As you might guess from the title it features, among other things, snow. Lots of it. The set is a beautiful sparkling evocation of the Arctic: snow on the ground, snow in the air, snow to be thrown around, snowballs even.
The story is an adaptation of an old folk tale, as pantomimes generally are – and the show has some of the attributes of that genre – but this is no ordinary panto.
The story that unfolds is that of a couple whose long complicated Arctic cultural namings translate as, apparently, Rodney and Elaine – who ask Mother Spring and Father Frost for a child.
The ensuing adventures that follow from this – the village versus the Ice Bears; the complications of family relations; the trekking through the blizzards; even the perils of climate change – are brought vividly to life by a sparky, tightly rehearsed ensemble of players.
There is comedy here, and poignancy; joy and sadness; and stunningly expert physical theatre evocations of moving and living in the North. And some pleasingly daft dances – look out for the Whale Blubber Dance!
But this isn’t just knockabout; it ranges across all aspects of the cultures of the North, without being boringly didactic. There are Eskimo, Lapp, Siberian, Greenland and other influences in the striking costumes and the stories and rituals. All put over with tremendous unpatronising verve and skill.
An enriching, uplifting total delight for children and adults of any age. Don’t miss it.
***** (5 Stars)
John Christopher Wood
Runs until Sun 20 December at the Rondo Theatre. Tickets available at http://www.rondotheatre.co.uk